I am not a blood kind of person. I don't like Steven King movies, I've never read Twilight, and I don't watch CSI. That said, last week I may have changed my mind.
I noticed a piece last Wednesday in the New York Times about a surprising impact from hurricane Irene. In addition to the downed trees and power outages, one of the unexpected ramifications in New York City was a shortage in the local blood banks. Due to the shutdown of the MTA, many of the local blood drives had been cancelled. Consequently, the blood supply was in "dire need" of resupply. http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/31/urgent-call-for-blood-donations/
Wondering how such a crisis was handled, I did a little research on the Red Cross website. While most blood supplies are maintained locally, when communities aren't able to sustain sufficient levels they sometimes have to look for outside help. This may mean help from another city or state, or even from another country. Last year, for example, the American Red Cross sent emergency shipments of blood to Haiti to help the earthquake victims.
The realities of blood sharing offer a poignant lesson on the common bonds of humanity, especially when considering these two questions: Where does the blood come from and who does it save?
Blood types don't break down along racial or ethnic lines. They don't follow bounds of politics or religion. We not only share the same blood as our families, but we share the same blood as those who we believe to be strangers: those from a different culture, those who speak a different language, even those who worship differently than ourselves. Who knows ... a pro-choice, anti-war, feminist Wicca priestess might give blood in Height Ashbury and save the life of a right wing polygamist in Utah.
Blood crosses all boundaries; it bridges all barriers; no matter who you are or where you come from, blood is the one thing we all share. It's like Mowgli's famous line in the Jungle book: "We be of one blood, ye and I."
As we all know, this week marks the tenth anniversary of 9/11. In a world where separation, fear and judgment are the norm, we must find a tangible way to remind ourselves of this shared human bond.
One way to do this? Give blood.
Beginning this week, a special nationwide blood drive will be held. But this is not just any blood drive, this is a blood drive sponsored by the Muslim community entitled "Muslims for Life." http://muslimsforlife.org/ In an attempt to collect 10,000 units of blood in the month of September, Muslim groups across the country are offering open blood drives to honor the victims of 9/11. It's not only a way to offer the gift of life; it is a way to make a statement about human solidarity.
I've changed my mind; I am a blood kind of person. And on this tenth anniversary of 9/11, perhaps you will become a blood kind of person too. Remember this shared connection. Remember our common bond. In the end, our conduct as human beings comes down to two basic choices: do we give blood or spill it? Let it be the former, for "We be of one blood, Ye and I."